To get just a hint of what 2005 achieved for 7th district U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis, one would be directed to his personal homepage. On it, with one click on the ‘legislation’ icon, you will notice a sudden downloading of initiatives that are either pending in Congress or destined for passage in the short, near future.
Davis has had his hands on more bills than a collections agent. In fact, approximately 378 bills are sponsored or supported by Davis.
It’s an even more staggering amount given barely 5 percent of all legislation never gets passed into law.
With all of that on his political plate, Congressman Davis spoke at the 7th district office located on 3333 W. Arthington to a banquet hall of representatives of
several key outreach organizations, such as the Safer Foundation, Bethel New Life and Cease Fire. He focused his discussion on the progress made throughout the Westside in terms of narrowing the gap between social and economic groups within the surrounding areas.
Davis also spoke on the many initiatives that made it to the floor of Congress and beyond, as well as the ones that are to be presented soon.
“Currently, the ‘Ex-Offender Second Chance Act’ is at the precipice of getting passed,” said Davis. “Recently, there was a committee hearing on the merits of the act which alone is an accomplishment. Many bills fail to make the committee hearing stage. We’re hoping that by next spring the bill will be passed. It will truly be landmark legislation when passed.”
If passed, The ‘Second Chance Act’ would assist prisoners released from jail in need of housing, employment and even Identification cards, which can be difficult to get for some ex-offenders. The bill is also designed to require greater coordination of offenderreentry efforts among all levels of government and with community groups, and it requires coordinated research and studies on offender reentry issues.
“This year, we held two separate fairs: one at Austin High School and one at St. Paul Church of God and Christ. Both locations had turn-outs over 2,000 people,” Davis said. “This speaks volumes of just how important this issue is to the community and how much they want to avoid the potential recidivism that could result from a lack of adequate resources available for them when they are released.”
Congressman Davis also took time to recognize the valiant work his HIV/AIDS taskforce did in preparation for World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 of this year. Their efforts included preparing the World AIDS Day Gospel Shout Out Concert at Marshall High School andsetting up testing locations throughout the West Side.
“The HIV/AIDS Taskforce worked so hard; they really deserve to be commended,” said Davis. “They contacted WGCI, who both acknowledged their testing sites on the West Side but also stopped the music and paid tribute. I don’t know if you’ve listened to WGCI but they never stop the music for anybody. That gives you an example of the effectiveness of their effort.”
Congressman Davis spoke about supporting the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, whichwas passed into law late last year. This legislation is named for U.S. Senator Gordon Smith’s son, who committed suicide while in college last year, Davis said.
“The Smith Act provides support for youth suicide early intervention and prevention programs, technical assistance centers for suicide prevention, and mental and behavioral health services on campuses. More importantly, it will serve as an important launching point for a long overdue discussion on what are the best means of addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of our college aged youth.”
Healthcare was also a key issue in Davis’ progress report. He proudly informed the banquet hall of the insistence on continuing to fund much needed health care facilities in lower class communities; facilities that will provide excellent, if not timely, service to residents, he said, whether or not they have adequate medical coverage. According to Davis, the 7th District has more medical providers than any other district in the state.
Despite the accomplishments of the past 12 months though, Davis is already preparing his agenda for next year. It includes a plan for a special health care facility at Rush Hospital that will cater to Autistic individuals, three child welfare initiatives that are on the floor of the House and a plan to recruit more African-American men to take part in the Head-start Program.